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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Encouraging Sign for Father of Gymnast

September 28, 2000|DIANE PUCIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — Some day Jamie Dantzscher may be able to find the positives of her Olympic experience but it probably will not be soon.

Dantzscher, a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, is home in San Dimas with five of her six siblings.

But Dantzscher's mother, Joyce, 21-year-old sister Jennifer and father John are still in Sydney.

Last Friday John and Jennifer were in a Sydney taxicab. While going through an intersection, the cab was hit broadside by a bus. John underwent brain surgery and is listed in critical but stable condition. Jennifer suffered minor injuries.

Evelyn Godfrey, Joyce's mother, said that John regained consciousness Wednesday and recognized his wife and Jennifer.

While the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney would not release information on Dantzscher, Godfrey said that John suffered a fractured skull, bruised brain, two collapsed lungs, a fractured left wrist, a bruised vertebra and a trachea injury.

"The doctors told Joyce that it will be about six weeks before they would have an idea of how much brain damage there might be," Godfrey said. "They told her that he might be combative, may have epileptic seizures and short-term memory loss. But Joyce said the doctors were encouraged that John recognized his family."

John is the produce manager at a grocery story in Glendale and Joyce is a waitress at a restaurant in Glendora.

Rita Kear, a counselor at San Dimas High, where Jamie graduated from last summer, said that the local community raised funds so that the entire Dantzscher family could travel to Australia.

"There are seven children," said Kear, whose daughter, Kelsie, is Jamie's best friend. "There was never money for the entire family to take vacations. This was a trip of a lifetime for them."

Kear said Jamie, her younger sisters Joanne and twins Jalynne and Janelle and brothers Jeremy and Johnny, returned home Tuesday so that they all can begin school. Jamie will attend UCLA after a national tour with the Olympic team.

Beth Kline-Rybacki, one of Dantzscher's coaches at Charter Oaks Gymnastics Club in Covina, said that Jamie is holding up well.

Rybacki, her husband Steve, who was an assistant coach for the U.S. team, and Jamie were on their way to a party for Olympic athletes when Jamie got word of the accident.

"It's been a tough time for Jamie all around," Kline-Rybacki said. "I hope at some point Jamie can look back at the Olympics and find the positives but it will take awhile."

Jennifer, who suffered a sprained back, will fly home Friday.

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